By Lesley Mealor / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)
Majorette dancing in the United States takes on two forms that are related, but vary based on region. In some places, namely the Midwest and the South, traditional majorette dancing takes place in front of or alongside a marching band, and involves mainly baton twirling and clean, crisp jazz technique. You often see majorettes alongside cheerleaders at high school and college sporting events.
In areas with a high concentration of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), majorettes take on a whole different form. HBCU majorettes sometimes include baton twirling, but also incorporate a wider variety of dance styles, from West African, hip hop, step, bucking, and jazz.
HBCU majorette dancing includes choreography that is done in the stands of sporting events, called “stand counts”, as well as “struts”, which are choreographed entrances. Styles of HBCU majorette dancing include J-setting, made popular by the Jackson State University Prancing J-Settes, which is a high-stepping, high energy style which utilizes call and response between dancers; and more lyrical styles as seen from Southern University’s Dancing Dolls, who are known for their fluidity and port de bras.
Both types of majorette dancing is taught in studios, with baton twirling being the main component for the more traditional majorette style, and j-setting, bucking, and West African jazz being the focus for HBCU style majorette dance.
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